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Great-great-grandfather 'was a wonderful man'.

FOUR generations of family are mourning a "wonderful" great-greatgrandfather who was born during World War I and started working at the age of six.

Leonard Robert Clarke died peacefully at home on September 24, aged 99.

Born in 1917, the doting father of six was Cardiff through and through.

He was born in Grangetown but the exact street is unknown as it was demolished to divert the river Taff.

When he was little, his parents struggled and saved to secure him an apprenticeship and he eventually got taken on as an apprentice upholsterer.

"He was a very good upholsterer and he did it for years and years" said youngest daughter Patricia, 64.

"We never bought new furniture, we would get second-hand furniture and he would fix it up as good as new.

"He would bring home furniture to upholster - we would come home and there would be a settee in the kitchen.

"When the upholsterers shut down he got a job as a labourer at the steelworks in Cardiff.

"There was no option to be out of work when you had six children.

"When he got home from work at five he would head out to work as a pot collector at local pubs, he never stopped."

Leonard was no stranger to hard work. Since the age of six, he had a part-time job at a fruit market in the city.

"He finished school at 3pm and he would work till 6pm," Patricia added.

"He didn't get paid wages until he was eight. His pay was a bag of fruit and veg to take back to his mum.

It was a different world."

He raised six children with his late wife Mary. The pair were married for 72 years and received two telegrams from the queen during their long and happy marriage.

During World War Two Mr Clarke fought bravely as part of the South Wales Borderers infantry regiment.

He served around the world, including at Italy and Burma where he was awarded the Burma Star. This medal will be placed on the coffin at his funeral at The Blessed Sacrament Church in Rumney on Monday at 11am.

People will be travelling from as far away as Cyprus, France and Australia to mark this end of an era and it is a testament to the temperament and kindness of the man.

When Leonard was 90 he was diagnosed with throat cancer which he bravely defeated. He would always go to the British Legion on a Saturday for a pint with his mates.

After breaking his hip in a fall he lost some mobility, and towards the end he needed 24-hour care. But his mind stayed sharp until the end. He was doing crosswords, word searches and playing cards with his children until a week before he died.

Patricia said: "When he turned 90 he had six children, 20 grandchildren, 46 great-grandchildren and seven greatgreat-grandchildren. There are now too many to count but when she was alive, my mother would send Christmas cards to everybody.

"He was a wonderful man who wouldn't say boo to a goose. Since I can remember, he never once raised his voice."


Leonard Robert Clarke has died aged 99

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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 11, 2016
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